March 15th, 2010
12:48 PM ET

Report: Israel, U.S. ties worst in 35 years, official says

Israel's ties with the United States are at their worst in 35 years, the country's top envoy to the United States was quoted as saying Monday.

Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, made the remarks in a conference call to the country's consuls general Saturday night, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.

His comments came as the United States harshly criticized Israel for announcing new settlement construction in disputed East Jerusalem territory while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set up a team to investigate the timing of the announcement, which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "insulting" to her country.

The United States has asked Israel to "do something significant" to show that it is serious about moving toward negotiations with Palestinians, a U.S. official and an Israeli official told CNN. Specifically, the United States asked Israel to rescind the decision on the settlement project in East Jerusalem, the sources said.

State Department Deputy Secretary James Steinberg delivered that message Friday in a meeting with Oren, and Clinton reiterated it in a phone call with Netanyahu, the sources said.

"It's not about words any more," said the U.S. official, who could not speak on the record because of the sensitive nature of the diplomacy. "We need to see some concrete steps."

Earlier, Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said he could not confirm whether Clinton presented Israel with a set of demands.

Netanyahu was focused on trying to "calm things down," Regev said.

Speaking Monday during an event at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Netanyahu argued that such construction has been going on for decades and does not hurt Arabs.

"In the last 42 years, there has not been a government that has limited the building in Jerusalem," he said, citing several suburbs of the city. "The development of these Jewish neighborhoods never hurt in any way the Arabs in East Jerusalem and did not come on account of them."

He added there is broad agreement such neighborhoods will remain part of Israel in a final peace agreement. "We will continue to keep Jerusalem as an open city for all the religions," Netanyahu said," a city where Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims live in coexistence, enjoy freedom to worship at their holy sites."

The Israeli announcement of construction in Ramat Shlomo came during Biden's visit last week. It complicated U.S. efforts to set up so-called proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the latest attempt to nudge the two sides back toward talking directly.

Biden condemned the decision, calling it "a step that undermines the trust we need right now."

–CNN's Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

Post by:
Filed under: Israel
soundoff (322 Responses)
  1. Daniel Bath

    I think when Israel stole nuclear secrets in the late 60s and bombed the USS Liberty it was at a lower point, Israel has done a pretty good public relations job glossing over their mis deads. Most Americans just done care that Israel is stealing from us and killing our children with lies and deciept

    March 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gypsy

    Isn't it another pre setup show game? israel is not following US? Someone told them, 'Hey Guys! we have to talk like this. But in reality you don't have to do anything'. oh God! How many more years? Has all the empires been emperor all the time? Read some history books. If you are really neutral honest broker, in your bad time, might someone help you.
    God doesn't like arrogance

    March 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    It's easy, take away the billions that we give them in hand outs every year and you'll see how fast they want to make peace in the middle east.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bj

    What benefit does Israel provide to the United States? None. It's pretty obvious that Israel does not want peace, they have shown that they would rather be the bully in their neighborhood.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. maria

    It is about time that someone put their foot down and tell them they have cross the limit. These settlements have to stop until everything is settled and negotiated between both parties and there is mutual agreements between both parties. It is time for the Palestinians to have their own country with boundaries. The Israelis need to stop actions that show greed whether intentional or not. I congratulate Joe Biden on taking the right action. God bless Joe!

    March 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim Kelly

    The best news for real peace in years, hopefully this goes a bit further so the Israelis would be forced to make some concessions. Hopefully it's a game changer which will turn the tides. The US had been supporting their advantageous ways too wholeheartedly.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lucretia

    And several members of Congress are up in arms. In American politics Americans should always come first. The administration is correct in questioning Israel's commitment to peace. We give them billions while our citizens suffer. Any idiot can see that this should stop. If Israel doesn't want our participation in Mideast peace, then fine, but the free American money (weapons) that we have to borrow from other nations should stop.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Northern

    Maybe Israel is just sick and tired of the American Government trying to Police every country in the World and try to force everyone to do what they want them to do. Like it or not, the truth is that America has made more problems in the World by trying to stick their money hungry greedy hands in to everyone's business.

    Good old hypocritical American Government, trying to push for peace in the Middle East while it as at war with Iraq.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    I am deeply disappointed in the Israeli move, but as time moves on it seems to illustrate the point the Palestinians have been trying to make for years. The Israelis do not seem truly interested in a peace. You really can not negotiate with people over specific territories while one party continues to build on the land in dispute. The land is clearly in dispute, that is why they are called the "occupied territories". People seem to forget a Palestinian state was established by the UN at the same time Israel was established. The support the United States has routinely provided Israel is bordering on mindless. I think we need to look closely at this issue and rethink our "unquestioning" support of Israel.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jeff coleman

    Netanyahu and all other previous Israeli PMs before him, spread lies about the desire of peace, at the same time, they build settlement from land stolen from Palestinian villages, and cities, the build walls to keep Palestinian in a massive concentration camp, they do to the Palestinian what the German did to them in IIWW, the murder Palestinian, imprison young men and women most of the time without trail, they used powerful Jewish Lobbyist in the US to cover their 60 years crime against Palestinian, they steal US secruit and sell them to the Russsian and Chinese, they more and more of our US money and use that money to pay for majority of our congress men and women, the they play the victims game, wake up America and see the Israeli and Jewish people as they are, Knifing, deceptive, lying roaches

    March 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eric in Raleigh, NC

    Another example of how the Obama Administration officials lack the ability to manage and lead. There haven't been any concrete accomplishments the existing Administration can point to as a success since they've come into office. The world's other leadership representatives continue to see the United States as a weakening power because of the utter and complete lack of leadership, strength, and competency from the Oval Office and other Administration officials.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RacistObama

    Lets be honest,Israel like all of america's long time allies know they're on their own wiht this empty suited Obama in white house. Only people glad to see Obama as prez are america's enemies and americans who hate america ( also known as dems).

    March 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jack Lowe

    The Israelis are playing us for fools. They've bought out our most influential politicians paid off with their blood money. They're grabbing more and more land and our support for their ambitions is the stated reason for the Muslim animosity towards us.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Leonard

    Has anyone in Washington considered cutting off all US aide to Israel? In any other conflicts of this nature and we would be sending arms to the Palestinians.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dimes1

    Well it seems that Osama ben Obama is showing his true colors. His muslim upbringing and softness on terror are on display for all to see.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22